Monolayers of CHO cells placed on membrane filters were irradiated with alpha particles from a241 Am source. Particle penetration into the cells was controlled by placing the cell sample at various distances from the source. Dosimetric and spectrometric measurements were performed at comparable positions using a parallel plate ionization chamber and a scintillation crystal spectrometer. Cell survival, as measured by conventional cloning techniques, was single hit in form. A pronounced minimum in mean lethal dose of 29 rad was observed for alpha particle beams that penetrated only about 3 μm into the cell. A pronounced maximum in inactivation cross section of$90\ \mu {\rm m}^{2}$, equal to about half the projected area of the nucleus, occurred for beams that penetrated only 5-7 μm into the cell. Thus, a single alpha particle penetration several micrometers within the cell nucleus was effective in killing the cell, while fully penetrating beams were actually less efficient; the latter beams required multiple particle traversals and about three times the cell dose to achieve the same effect. These results support the proposal that radiosensitive sites are located in a thin peripheral region of the nucleus.

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